My Publicly Funded Office

Whenever I want to get serious work done, I take a 5-minute drive to my office. Once I’m there, I immediately shift into “working mode” — I knuckle down and accomplish whatever needs to get done quickly, often in under half the time it would take to accomplish the same task at home.

Although this may be the primary reason I take advantage of my office, it’s certainly not the only reason. Other luxuries of my office include: free access to books, free access to newspaper and magazine collections, free computer and internet access, and free movie rentals. Furthermore, my office is filled with an entire staff of personal assistants — all of whom will try to help answer any question I need answered, or assist me with any problem I need resolved. Best of all, I don’t pay huge operating costs for my office — it costs less than one dollar a day to run it year round.

If you’re jealous of my office, don’t be. You already have access to your own publicly funded office exactly like mine. This is because “my office” is my local public library.

Hello. My name is Shaun, and I’m a library fanatic. In 2007, I borrowed over 400 library materials. Novels, autobiographies, and self-help books. Feature movies, classic movies, and documentaries. I check out everything that looks interesting to me. Since I go to the library almost every day and find so many things that look interesting, I’m lucky that there is no limit to the number of items I’m allowed to borrow.

It hasn’t always been this way. In college, I used the school library as a place to get work done, but that was all — I never took advantage of the library materials. Like most of my peers at the time, I believed that libraries were uncool. Consequently, I failed to take advantage of the library stacks.

In other words, I was ignorant. I was wholly unaware of what I was missing, and remained ignorant for two years following graduation. Interestingly, one of these years was spent working in a library.

I was the library’s computer guy. As such, I believed that my responsibility was to keep the computer systems running. I was convinced that what these computer systems were being used for was none of my concern. This is why the workings of the library remained alien to me for an entire year.

The day of my enlightenment came when I was performing some routine maintenance on an older computer system. The maintenance was not something that required much of my attention, just a lot of my time. The system needed to download updates and be rebooted.

If you’ve ever done “Computer Babysitting” like this, then you know how quickly it becomes boring. Typically, the only thing entertaining you while you wait is a progress bar — you know, the “something is happening” line that starts from the left of your screen and crawls to the right. Sometimes it provides you with a “Time Remaining” countdown.

For this particular update, the computer predicted it would take about 30 minutes. I had two options:

  1. Watch the progress bar for 30 minutes while sitting on my thumbs.
  2. Select a book from a nearby shelf and page through it to kill time.

Unsurprisingly, I picked the second option. I scanned the titles of the books within arm’s reach and a thick yellow hardcover caught my eye:

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was:
How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It

At the time, I was about to enter my 7th year of working in the computer industry. I chose a career in computers because at one time I was passionate about it. After actually experiencing it, though, my love for servicing computers faded. In fact, I had to adopt a habit of changing employers every 2-3 years just for a change of scenery. Up until that moment, I thought that changing employers was the only way to experience variety in my life.

I picked up the book and read the back. It said something like: “Create and live the life you love: There’s more to life than what you’re getting.” Intrigued, I opened it and started reading…

…and before I knew it, the 30 minutes were all used up. I rebooted the computer, and experienced an epiphany: I needed to reboot my life.

The book helped me understand that changing employers was not the solution to my problem — it was a temporary fix that kept me trapped in a cycle of unsatisfying work. Changing careers was an option I never even considered — and realizing that it was an option excited me.

I tucked the book under my arm and headed for the circulation desk. I checked it out, brought it home, and read it cover to cover. Within a year, I quit my job, moved out of state, and reinvented myself as a writer.

I won’t try and describe everything that Barbara Sher’s book taught me. All I’ll say is that it does an excellent job of disarming your fears. If you haven’t read it and would like to, check your local library.

“I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was” inspired me to change my life. More importantly, it taught me how some books can inspire you to change your life. Consequently, I consider my local library to be my office.

It’s where I go to get things done. It’s where I go to find new things to read. It’s where I go to help me fulfill my intentions for lifelong learning.

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12 Responses to “My Publicly Funded Office”

#1 A Mind of My Own » Blog Archive » Hump Ahead on 07, Jan, 2008 at 7:57 am

[…] it. Meanwhile, I’ll try out other ways and see what’s the results. I must persevere. Someone did and has been happy with it. Related PostsA Promise DeliveredMy 1st ManicureLong Weekend AheadCamelsVivo CityDopod 838ProBusy […]

#2 Hunter Nuttall on 07, Jan, 2008 at 9:37 am

A lot of people essentially stop reading after they graduate because they think of books as uncool or things that you only read when you have to. And yet there’s plenty of life changing information out there! Over 400 library materials in a year is really amazing though. I don’t know how you keep up with that, but I’m sure you learn a lot!

#3 Shaun Boyd on 07, Jan, 2008 at 11:45 am

@Hunter Nuttall
You’d be surprised at how much one can accomplish in a year when you cut out cable TV and work only 4 hours a day!

#4 Christopher on 07, Jan, 2008 at 11:48 am

Now this is interesting.
Listening to you over the past several months, I often thought to myself just as others have. “This is a young ‘kid’ who has the luxury of ‘rebooting his life’. What does he know and how long will he survive with this extreme personal makeover?”
What you are offering here is an additional, outside source to support your thought process. A source that is (no pun intended) the source of your inspiration. One that is so compelling, you quit your job to chase your dream…. The dream of being happy with your job (*ick*, I hate saying that word)
I will, on your recommendation, check this book out in hopes that it helps me find the courage to challenge the day-to-day business intelligence work I am doing and devote more time to my art and blog.

#5 Lauren on 07, Jan, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Shaun is Every Librarian’s Dream-Come-True!

#6 Keara on 07, Jan, 2008 at 7:37 pm

well the TPL is every library-goer’s dream come true… so i guess it works out.

the east lansing library up here is a friggin shoebox in comparison 🙁

#7 RedZeppelin on 08, Jan, 2008 at 11:44 am

Fantastic post. Having recently rediscovered the joys of the public library I’m amazed why more people don’t take advantage of that incredible resource.

And I’ll be looking for that book.

/frustrated computer guy

#8 Robert Plumer on 10, Jan, 2008 at 1:00 am

Thanks for inspiring me to finally get off my duff and go to the library and get a card. It’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for quite awhile now. I used to love them when I was younger.

#9 etavitom on 10, Jan, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I love my library as well! Thanks for the wisdom and all the best in 08….

#10 Stephen Hopson/Adversity University on 11, Jan, 2008 at 8:54 am


The title of this article had me thinking you were going in a completely different direction. When I saw that title, I had the impression it was an office that was being funded by your readers through donations and advertising revenue.

So, imagine my surprise when you suddenly went off in a different direction (this is why your writing is so good!) to tell us that you were talking about the public library! I was like, “Wow, this guy had me thinking one thing but in reality he was talking about something I had never even considered.”

Great job! Yes, I love the public library and have used it often. I generally prefer to buy my books because I like the feeling of highlighting, writing notes in the margins and then putting it on my shelf for later referencing. But it’s useful if you want to check a book out before buying it. I also use the public library to take out movies.

Very nice article Shaun!

#11 Adrian on 13, Jan, 2008 at 10:29 am

While I tend to go to Barnes & Noble to read books and get work done, I gotta say I never thought of using the local library for the same purpose! Maybe if our library offered coffee and snacks, it’d be more of an incentive for me to go. 😛

#12 Top of the Mountains » Blog Archive » The office on 21, Jan, 2008 at 11:59 pm

[…] I came across Shaun Body’s article, My Publicly Funded Office (Thanks to Scott for the link): Whenever I want to get serious work done, I take a 5-minute drive […]

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